MTBPS sacrifices country for SAA, critics say
JOHANNESBURG – The medium term budget policy statement tabled by Finance Minister Tito Mboweni on Wednesday effectively threw ordinary South Africans under the ’plane’ in order to rescue struggling national airline SAA, the country’s main opposition Democratic Alliance said.
The granting of another R10.5 billion (about US$641 million) towards South African Airway’s business rescue plan, on top of R16.4 billion allocated in February’s main budget, showed the ruling African National Congress’s (ANC) disregard for poor citizens, DA head of finance DA Geordin Hill-Lewis said.
“The ANC government has chosen to cut essential services to the public – like education and policing – to fund another bailout of SAA. This is an indefensible, immoral choice. It amounts to throwing South Africans ‘under the plane’ to pay for SAA,” he said.
Mboweni, who had made this an issue of principle in the past, had effectively abandoned his commitment to get debt under control by 2023 as well as his pledge to stop bailouts of SAA, the DA member of parliament added.
The funding for the struggling national carrier, which has been under business rescue since last December, will be availed through cuts to department governments, including R1.2 billion taken from policing, R1.4 billion from education as well as a R12 billion cut to conditional grants to provinces and local governments.
“This is the immoral choice the ANC is making. They are choosing SAA over fighting crime. SAA over education. SAA over South Africa,” said Hill-Lewis.
The president of the newly-launched ActionSA party, Herman Mashaba, said Mboweni’s mid-term budget speech to parliament fell far short of outlining the tough decisions necessary to cut the government’s wasteful expenditure and reduce debt.
Mboweni said the stock of gross debt would rise from roughly R4 trillion this financial year to R5.5 trillion in 2023/24.
South Africa was borrowing R2.1 billion daily to fund its spending, he said.
“Once again Mboweni has delivered a budget speech which has failed to address the question of how government is reducing its own levels of expenditure,” said Mashaba, a former DA mayor for South Africa’s economic capital Johannesburg.
– African News Agency (ANA)